Music Teachers National Association
Call Today! 612-460-7653

Music Lesson Myth: I have to practice my instrument for several hours every day.


Myth: In order to become the best musician I can be, I have to practice my instrument for several hours every day. It makes sense, right? The more you practice your instrument the better you will become. We?ve all heard those stories as well; about the musicians that practice for long hours every day to become successful. But that does not need to be the case for everyone.

Fact: It doesn?t necessarily matter how long you practice your instrument, just as long as you?re practicing effectively. Learning to play a new instrument should be a daily commitment but it does not need to encompass your whole life. Practicing correctly for an hour a day, or even every other day, can actually help you progress faster. Your body needs time to rest your fingers and arms and your mind needs time to soak up the new information. If you practice for too long then you could injure or overwork yourself.

Similarly, playing an instrument for several hours a day can actually harm your progress. If you?re practicing nonstop then you might not have time to take a break and assess your progress and mistakes. If you practice for hours a day but aren?t practicing correctly, then you?re spending hours learning to play the mistakes. This can be damaging because after a few hours of practicing poorly, you can pick up bad habits that could be hard to break.

The best way to practice is however feels right for you. If you can manage playing for long periods of time and are progressing, then that?s fine. But that does not need to be the case for everyone.

More music lesson myths:
Piano Lesson Myth: Practicing means playing a piece from start to finish over and over.
Singing Lesson Myth: Classically Trained Singers Can?t Sing Popular Music
Piano lesson myth: I haven?t played piano in years and now I have to start over.

Read More

More Common Beginner Guitar Mistakes


In the last article, I outlined some of the beginner guitar mistakes, but by no means is that all of them. Beginners with any instrument will have trouble and it’s important to know what some common issues are to make sure they’re avoided.

Here are some more common beginner guitar mistakes.

1. Not taking lessons. With online tutorials and videos promising to teach prospective guitar players how to play the guitar, it may seem silly to pay for a teacher. Taking guitar lessons is still necessary for all students who seriously want to learn to play guitar. A good teacher can teach students things and answer questions that a tutorial cannot.
2. Overdoing it. New students are often overanxious to learn the guitar and want fast results. Practicing for 10 hours a day might seem like the way to go, but overdoing it one day can cause pain and discomfort for the next, especially when just starting out.
3. Skipping warm ups. Just like vocal students, guitar students need to warm up their fingers and hands before playing. Not warming up can result in injury and cramping during practice.
4. Practicing the same things every day. It may seem necessary to perfect something before moving onto a new thing, but that?s not always the case when learning guitar. Students who are having trouble with certain chords or songs should move onto something new and come back the next day. Sometimes the mind needs a break.
5. Not experiencing live music. Live concerts showcase guitar players and their showmanship. Attending concerts gives students a chance to learn something new and get up close and personal with the guitar players.

Similar articles:
Common Beginner Guitar Mistakes
Developing Guitar Calluses
Common Mistakes Guitar Students Make When Practicing

Read More

Playing Music from Memory: Is it necessary?


Memorization comes in handy in every aspect of life; from school to song lyrics, but is it necessary to memorize music if you’re learning to play an instrument? Of course you need to memorize note names and the position of each note on the staff, but eventually that will become second nature. Is it necessary then to memorize pieces of music?

Here are some pros to memorizing pieces of music.

– Once you have a piece memorized, it?s easier to focus on techniques or how you can play the music better.
– At one point or another, you?ll probably be asked to demonstrate your musical talent at some type of gathering. It?s a good idea to have a couple pieces memorized just in case this situation ever arises.
– If you?re always looking at a piece of music, you can rarely look at your hands and fingers. If you have a piece memorized, then you can spend more time studying the positions your hands make and perfect techniques.
– Musicians look more professional and well rehearsed if they do not need to have a piece of sheet music on the stand during a performance.
– If you want to play in a band, sheet music will not be allowed. When was the last time you saw your favorite band on stage with music on a stand in front of them.

For beginners, it may be helpful to always have sheet music in front of them while they are playing, just in case they become distracted and need to refer to the music. Once you?re an advanced musician, memorizing music will be a huge advantage.

You might also like:
10 Tips for Writing Your Own Music
10 tips to Prepare for an Honor Band Audition
10 Tips for Your First Recital

Read More

Making the Most of Music Lessons


Music lessons can be an expensive investment; you have to pay for the instrument and materials that go along with it, upkeep, lessons etc.? With the money you?re spending on lessons, it?s definitely a good idea to make sure you?re making the most of each lesson!

Here are some tips to make the most of music lessons.

1. Begin music lessons at the right age.? Adults can begin lessons at anytime because their success is based on their dedication.? For children, they need to be mentally and physically able to play an instrument.? Starting a three year old out with vocal lessons isn?t a great idea because they aren?t developed enough to get everything from the lessons.?
2. Take private in home music lessons.? With group lessons or lessons in a classroom setting, students do not get much one-on-one time.? If you?re trying to get the most you can out of each music lesson, private lessons are the way to go.
3. Make sure you have a qualified instructor.? If you want to learn to play the piano like a professional but you?re getting music lessons from someone only qualified to teach beginners, then you won?t progress past beginner level.? Not qualified instructors could also teach you bad habits, which would be hard to break later.? It?s best to learn from a qualified instructor from the beginning if you would like to progress quickly and efficiently.
4. Use practice time wisely.? Don?t sit and practice your instrument in front of the TV or try to cram in practice right before bed.? Set aside designated time each day to practice your instrument and always practice in the same place.? If you?re practicing at the same time in the same place, practice will become routine.
5. Have fun!? If you hate practicing or taking music lessons, then you?re not going to want to progress.? Try finding a different teacher that uses different techniques before giving up on lessons.? Sometimes a new teacher can make things fun again!

Similar articles:
How to Keep Kids Interested in Music Lessons
Benefits Of In Home Music Lessons
10 Benefits of Music Lessons

Read More

Should You Be Practicing the Guitar Right Now?


There is no right amount of time per day that everyone should be practicing the guitar. Practice duration depends on a number of factors:

-What do you want to get out of guitar lessons?
-How motivated are you?
-How much time per day do you have to practice?

You probably know someone who practices for hours everyday and is making quick progress, but that doesn?t mean you need to practice six hours a day to achieve the same results.

Here are some guitar practice tips.

Identify your goals. Figure out what you?re trying to get out of guitar lessons. Are you trying to join a band or have a real love for the guitar? Or are you just looking for a new hobby? Once you decide what you?re trying to get from the guitar, it?ll be easier to figure out how long you should practice per day. If you?re friends are starting a band and need a guitar player in three months, you should probably be practicing for a couple hours a day. If learning to play the guitar is on your bucket list, then you can leisurely practice for 30-60 minutes per day, or however long you get enjoyment from it.

Motivation. If you?re determined to learn to play the guitar and you?re practicing efficiently, then there is no reason you need to practice for hours every day. If you know what you?re doing, then efficiently practicing for 30 minutes a day will yield the same results and someone less motivated who practices for two hours a day.

Stay positive and have fun! If you enjoy playing the guitar, then you?re more likely to enjoy the journey than if you?re learning the guitar for someone else. If you want to progress quickly but cannot stay motivated for a three-hour practice session, break up your practice through out the day. Wake up a little bit earlier in the morning and practice, then right after school and maybe again before bed. Regardless of when you?re practicing, always have fun!

More guitar practice tips:
Guitar Lesson Myth: Since there are online tutorials, guitar lessons are no longer necessary.
Guitar Lesson Myth: The cheaper, the better.
Developing Guitar Calluses

Read More

How to Identify Piano Practice Mistakes


In an earlier article, I discussed how there is no excuse for making mistakes during piano practice and there isn?t. However, things can get tricky if you don?t know where or why you?re making mistakes. We play the piano how we practice, so if you?re learning to play the piano while making mistakes then you will play in front of people making mistakes.

ere are some ways to tell why you are making piano practice mistakes.

First, discover where you are making piano mistakes.

Are you simply skipping notes or missing keys? Or are you forgetting a technique or how to play a note?

If you?re missing notes and fumbling through pieces: Slow down! This is a clear indicator that you?re simply playing too fast for your skill level and need to slow down and learn the piece better. Break the piece down into smaller parts and work through the more difficult parts of the song first. If you keep starting from the beginning and fumbling over the same parts and then starting over again, you?ll master the beginning of the piece and never get to the ending. If you break down a piece, you?ll be able to play each part and then put it all together. If you?re having trouble playing through a piece at normal speed, but you?ve already mastered each part individually, play the piece through more slowly. Once you can play the piece slowly, begin to speed up until you can play through the piece perfectly.

If you?re making mistakes that have to do with the more technical side of piano playing, like forgetting how to play a note or having memory issues, you don?t know the music well enough and need to spend more time with the basics. Spend some time away from the piano and practice. That?s right. Don?t sit at your piano and try to practice your sight-reading or ear training. Go into the living room and sit down and focus at the task in front of you. Simply slowing down and trying to work through your mistakes probably will not work in this case since you do not know the basics. You may be able to work through one piece, but if you don?t learn the basics, then you?ll continue to have trouble with the same issues.

You might also like:
How Songwriters Overcome Writer?s Block
10 Tips to Motivate Students to Practice Music
Common Mistakes Guitar Students Make When Practicing

Read More

Piano Lesson Myth: Mistakes are okay because I am just beginning to play the piano.


Myth: Mistakes I make are okay because I am a beginner and just started playing the piano. Beginning piano players will often move past and excuse their mistakes because they feel it?s okay since they are just starting to learn to play the piano. Think about all the other things you started learning and how often you made mistakes, like missing a basket in basketball practice or tripping during a track meet. Since those mistakes are excusable, it seems logical that piano practice mistakes are normal as well.

Fact: If you?re making a mistake while practicing piano, it?s because you?re going too fast or not paying attention. Everyone will make mistakes at first, it?s only natural, but if you keep making those mistakes, you?re not learning. Once you make a mistake during piano practice, start over and slow down. Don?t allow yourself to make the piano mistake and don?t just move past it hoping you?ll get it right the next time. Make sure you get it right the next time!

Slowing down may not seem like it will solve all your problems, but think about typing on a computer keyboard. Odds are, when you first started out, you were not typing 90 words per minute with no errors. You started out slowly, taking your time to make sure you hit all the right keys. Probably even today, if you?re typing on a computer keyboard and you find yourself making lots of mistakes, you can slow down and type with no errors. The piano is the same. If you?re having trouble and making lots of mistakes, then you simply need to slow down and focus. Once you?ve mastered the piece and a slower pace, then you can bring it up to speed.

More piano lessons myths:
Piano Lesson Myth: My hands are too small to play the piano.
Piano Lesson Myth: I Have to Practice Everyday.
Music Lesson Myth: I can?t learn to play the piano well because I only have a keyboard.

Read More

10 Piano Practice Tips


There are lots of ways to maximize your piano practice time. With all the other activities you or your children are involved in, finding time to efficiently practice can be difficult.

Here are some piano practice tips to make sure you are practicing efficiently and using your time to maximize results.

1. Create a practice area. Make sure your area is clear of distractions and is someplace comfortable where you can practice daily.
2. Get organized! Not only should your piano practice materials be in order, your piano practice schedule should be organized as well. If you?re having trouble figuring out what to practice, your piano instructor will be able to help you create a practice schedule.
3. Don?t become discouraged. Everyone struggles with piano lessons and piano practice at one point or another. The key to success is to not get discouraged and realize that even if you?ve hit a plateau, you will begin progressing again soon.
4. Dedicate time to piano practice. Set aside time each day when you know you can practice. If you don?t have time to practice or you aren?t focused on the instrument, then don?t practice. If you?re practicing in the wrong frame of mind, you can pick up bad habits and not progress at all.
5. Focus on one area of study at a time. If you?ve been trying to get through a Mozart piece for the past couple practice sessions, don?t move onto another composer before you?ve finished this piece. While it might be nice to take a break from a piece, going back and forth between composers and pieces will waste more time.
6. Always warm up! Take a few minutes before each piano practice session to warm up by playing a few scales.
7. Don?t make mistakes! Everyone will make mistakes when they?re starting out, but once you?ve been taking lessons for a while, mistakes happen because you?re being careless or going too fast. If you make a mistake, stop, start over and slow down.
8. Break it down. If you?re playing a piece but constantly getting stuck on one part, break the piece up. Don?t keep playing from the beginning and starting over if you?re constantly messing up in the same place. Take the section you?re having trouble with and practice that separately until you master it.
9. Keep a piano practice log. Not only of the time you practice, but also of what you practiced and what you had trouble with. You may think that you?ll remember how you overcame a difficult piece or a tip you just learned, but keeping a practice journal will ensure you remember everything you do.
10. Don?t only practice with the piano. Some things can be done without the distraction of the piano. If you are trying to work on ear training or analyzing a piece, step away from the piano and give the task your full attention. This will also help you learn to practice when you do not have access to a piano.

You might also like:
10 Piano Tips for Beginners
Piano Lesson Myth: My hands are too small to play the piano.
Music Lesson Myth: I can?t learn to play the piano well because I only have a keyboard.

Read More

10 Tips for Creating the Perfect Practice Area


It?s easy to become distracted, especially if you have a lot of other things on your mind. If you want to learn to play a musical instrument, you need to focus and practice. Learning an instrument doesn?t happen overnight. One thing that can help motivate you to practice is creating the perfect practice area.

Here are some tips for creating the perfect practice area.

1. Choose a place where you can practice every day. If your sibling watches TV shows every other day for a few hours, don?t practice in a room where there will always be other people.
2. Pick a place where you can have your lessons and practice. If you?re taking lessons in the same place you practice, things will become familiar and you?ll be more likely to remember your lessons when practicing.
3. Rid the area of distractions. Don?t choose the family room as your practice area because that?s a room that has a lot of traffic.
4. Choose a place you feel comfortable in. The living room will probably be much more comfortable than the kitchen.
5. Make sure the room you choose has adequate lighting. You don?t want to have to strain your eyes to see the music.
6. Don?t practice near the kitchen if you?re going to practice around dinnertime. You?re more likely to become distracted if you?re hungry and can smell dinner cooking.
7. Choose a quiet area. If there are lots of noises around you, you may easily become distracted without even knowing it.
8. Don?t pick a small area! You need to have enough room to create a nice sound and to move around if your instrument requires it. If you play the french horn and are trying to practice in the corner of the kitchen, you?re probably going to hate practicing and not want to do it anymore.
9. If your learning an instrument that?s stationary, like the piano, set up practice times every day and make sure your family knows they are not allowed to interrupt you during that time.
10. Make sure all the tools you need to practice are in your area. Keep your music stored in the area and have a glass of water near by. You want to make sure you have everything you may need handy so that you do not need to get up and leave the area.

More practice tips:
10 Tips for Creating the Perfect Practice Session
10 Piano Practice Tips
Common Mistakes Piano Students Make When Practicing

Read More

Tips for Vocal Performers


Vocal performances are different than other instrument performances because your voice is your instrument. If you play the guitar and show up to a gig and have a cold, you can still make it through the performance. Not so with a vocal performance. Singing takes practice and dedication just like all other instruments, but there are some things that you will need to work on if you sing rather than play an instrument.

Here are some things that vocal performers will need to worry about that other instrument players may not.

Articulate your words. Articulate literally means to make clear. Your words should sound clear so that people can understand you. Have you ever gone to a rock concert where you couldn?t understand a word the singer sang? That?s because he/she didn?t articulate their words. A song will be more effective if the audience can understand the lyrics.

Overcome singing complications. All singers have had to overcome some unforeseen hurdle in their singing career. Even if the hurdle is just a common cold, you will not be able to perform as usual. Try not to strain your voice and cut your performance short if you feel exhausted. Always remember to err on the side of caution if something does not feel right with your voice.

Follow a healthy vocal diet. Everything you put in your mouth affects your instrument. Smoking and drinking during a performance are definitely not good things to do, even if the rest of your band is drinking. You?re vocal cords should always stay hydrated and healthy to make sure you give the best performance possible.

Don?t overdo it. Over practicing isn?t just going to exhaust you, it could permanently damage your voice. With other instruments if you practice and strain yourself, you?ll just have to take a break for a few days/weeks, but not so with vocal performers. If you think you?ve overdone a performance, take a break and go to the doctor if necessary.

More tips for vocal health:
10 Foods and Drinks Not to Consume Before a Vocal Performance
Is Karaoke Bad for a Singing Voice?
Diet for Vocal Health

Read More